Flying pests need close control

Flies can cause misery in summer

Flies can cause misery in summer

It’s summer time and while the sunny weather may keep the humans happy, it can be a miserable time for live stock as the flies buzz around causing torment, loss of condition and sometimes disease.

Here are some handy tips for keeping your livestock at least a little protected from the unwanted attention of flies and insects.

It all starts with cleanliness. If you can keep the living area clean and free from muck, then you stand a chance of reducing the fly population. Keeping the barn clean and using fly-control products, you can keep stable flies from tormenting both you and your livestock.

Double trouble

The two flies that cause lives tock owners most problems are the common housefly and the stable fly. The former are nonbiting insects that carry disease and parasites, the latter are bloodsuckers who torment the animals. Flies – like flowers – are a natural visitor in the summer, but that doesn’t make them any more pleasant or desirable. By removing the warm, damp environments in which they thrive, you stand more chance of keeping their numbers down.

Reasons to swat

If any incentive is needed to keep the flies under control, think decreased output from dairy animals, reduced weight on feeder stock, expenditure on insect repellents and vet bills for eye and wound infections.

If you own horses, think of the spraying and swatting that goes on during grooming and the bad behaviour of ponies and horses plagued by biting insects.

One obvious solution is to clear the manure. Manure piles are prime breeding ground but areas of animal droppings are also rife with breeding flies. Remove debris from feeding troughs, discard damp hay, wet bedding and any other organic matter. Spreading it thinly over your fields is a good way of reducing the fly population while simultaneously improving pasture soil.

Your manure pile should always be placed close enough to your barn for access, yet far enough away to keep flies from swarming the premises. Regular removal of the pile should be part of your farm-management routine.

Using fly-control products.

Keeping your barns and sheds as clean and dry as possible is one answer. You can complement this work by buying fly deterrents.

Fly paper: hung in strategic spots is a tried and tested method of fly reduction. It is simple but it can be unsightly. A fly paper with thousands of victims stuck to it is pretty unsightly.

Fly Traps: i.e., plastic containers with bait inside to lure flies to their doom, are the slightly evolved version of fly paper. While effective, full traps can be ugly and smelly.

Misters: A more modern approach is to install portable fly-spray mist devices in buildings or areas where your  animals gather. These delivery systems work by shooting a fine mist of insecticide into the air every 15 minutes. The products are safe for pets and animals and are relatively cheap to buy.
Predators: Releasing flying insects on your farm to get rid of flies might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s actually a natural, environmentally friendly means to eliminate the types of flies that cause the most harm around your barn. Fly predators, aka parasitoids, are smaller than their foes and resemble ants with wings. Their sole purpose is to stop the reproductive cycles of house and stable flies. Various suppliers sell fly predators, but because several species are available, it’s important to buy those that are effective in your region. Your supplier’s customer-support representatives can help you determine what type and how many you need. 

Releasing fly predators should be part of an ongoing programme that you combine with manure removal and premise spraying. Fly predators do not kill adult flies, so you must eliminate them with insecticides. Spray insecticides well away from the breeding areas where you’ve released the fly predators so as not to diminish their population in the process.

Spray Repellents
A variety of aerosol sprays can be used to treat your barn. Some products are designed to stick to surfaces for an extended period of time; others are for more immediate, temporary knock-down action. The problem with residual sprays is they’re actually more toxic to fly predators than they are to house or stable flies. And, as with most farm chemicals, the “bad” flies build up a resistance to the product. Read the labels of the products you buy to ensure they are not counterproductive to your goal.

Fly management on your farm should be seen as a job that gets easier the more you deal with it. Nothin will eliminates all flies, but a sustained effort using all of the tools at your disposal will significantly reduce them.